[CT Birds] ID help, wish I had brought a camera

Kfinnan at aol.com Kfinnan at aol.com
Wed May 22 09:03:05 EDT 2013

The main problem with the birdsong CDs is that they include just one or two 
 songs for each bird whereas a Warbler will have a much more extensive  
repertoire. The CDs do have the songs most likely to be heard but, in the 
field,  you could readily encounter one of the versions that is not on a CD.
Two weeks ago, a few BT Green Warblers showed up in our neighborhood and  
presented all sorts of song variants that included whistles and buzzes. It's  
almost like they were young males just learning the ropes. Often, one of 
the  buzz/whistle combinations was repetitive, just like a more common song.
Sorting those out requires a much more extensive library than any CD could  
provide. Fortunately, the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology's Macaulay  
Library, http://macaulaylibrary.org/,  does have such a broad selection. The 
only issue is that you have to sort  through a large number of calls and songs 
for any given species. But it's worth  it.
The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology also markets a CD, Songs of the  
Warblers of North America. Longer ago than I care to admit, I purchased the  
cassette version.
In a message dated 5/21/2013 10:50:09 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
jswattbirds at snet.net writes:

A few  years back I vowed to take a camera with me every time I went into  
the woods after I went on a hike without one, and witnessed a black bear try 
 to tear apart a beaver lodge and the beavers came out and were tail 
splashing  at the bear to get it to stop.  So, of course, last Thursday I went for 
a  hike with exercise as my main objective and decided not to take the 
camera,  but did bring binoculars, knowing there would be plenty of warblers in  
the woods.  And, of course, I came upon a warbler that I could not  readily 
identify in the field, but when I reviewed my notes later that night,  I 
came up with Townsend's Warbler. 
My first contact  with the bird was when I heard the song, and recognized 
that I had never  heard it before. It was very buzzy, and ended in a rolling 
upward  note. I found the tree where the song was coming from but it took a  
long time to find the source as the leaf cover was full.  I only had two  
good glimpses at the bird as it was very active and would not stay in one  
place very long.  I first saw the breast and wing peak out from under  leaf 
cover.  The breast was yellow with black streaks coalescing in the  throat 
area and it had white wing bars.  I first thought it was  a Magnolia Warbler 
when I saw the breast, but immediately realized the  song was much longer and 
buzzier than a Magnolia.  I followed it around  the tree top and eventually 
got a look at it's head showing a thick black eye  line with yellow above 
and below the eye line.  After a while I didn't  get any more looks at it and 
decided to move on.  I thought maybe it was  a
Blackburnian and the dim light in the tree made it look yellow instead of  
orange, and even though I've heard a typical Blackburnian song before, I 
know  it has several alternate songs.
When I got home  from work I listened to my Stokes CDs and realized it was 
not a Blackburnian  song.  I looked in my Sibley's for an alternative and my 
jaw dropped when  I saw the Townsend's.  It's a very good match to my field 
notes that I  drew up, however, when I listened to the Stokes CD's 
recording of Townsend's  it didn't sound at all like what I heard.  I only saw the 
bird twice, but  heard it frequently.  It gave 4 buzzy notes followed by a 
rolling upward  whistle.  The 3rd and 4th notes were higher pitched than the 
1st  two.  It was a little bit burrier than a Black-throated Green's song 
(one  was singing in a tree behind me while I was listening to the mystery  
bird).  It also seemed to be a bit louder than the  BTGW.
On Friday, Saturday and Monday I  returned to the area of the Tunxis trail 
that I had originally found the bird,  (with a camera) but could not 
relocate it.  Can anyone identify the  song based on the limited description I have 
of the bird?  I would love  for it to be an alternative Townsend's song, 
but I'm being realistic that  it's probably a more common bird that I'm just 
not as familiar  with.


Jack  Swatt
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